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Interview with Marc Andreessen


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New essay by Marc Andreessen, "It's Time to Build":

 

https://a16z.com/2020/04/18/its-time-to-build/

 

It's very idealistic essay. That's not necessarily bad since it's supposed to be call to arms.

 

So perhaps I should not comment further.

 

 

 

What he asks people to do is not easy. Some what he asks is not rational. And some is not even possible.

 

We are not doing what he asks us to do. Why? Let's take a look at concrete examples.

 

Affordable housing: not economic, NIMBY, lots of entrenched interests. I don't know a capitalist solution to affordable housing. And government solution(s) may not work well. (I guess capitalist solution is that people with low incomes should live in South Dakota and not in San Francisco... It does not resolve the issues though.)

 

Superfast transportation:

- Supersonic jets. Technical issues, affordability, no ( ? ) business case. This is one of the areas where you have only an irrational agent (Elon Musk) trying to do something.

- High speed trains. This is clearly possible (see Japan, China). Mostly affordability and business case. Plus NIMBY and cost of eminent domain (battles). I could say it's a failure of capitalism, but overall it's somewhat rational for private companies not to get into this area. It's a mess with likely huge cost overruns even if project gets started. And not much profits if any. Plane tickets are cheap and competing with (budget) airlines is hard.

 

Education:

- I think this is an area where we don't know what good solutions are. Bill Gates tried and found this is really hard area.

- Cheap education for everyone seems only possible from the government pocket. Clearly (semi) capitalist universities have not provided this and won't do it in the future either.

- One qualified tutor per one pupil is impossible both on cost and availability basis.

 

Healthcare:

- Vaccines and drugs are hard. This one is somewhat being handled by capitalist means. But you cannot just remove testing/approval/etc costs and time consumption. We can see what happens when untested or badly tested drugs are rushed to the market. We can see what happens when disease test kits are rushed out without quality assurance. You cannot easily have both speed and quality. You probably cannot have speed, quality and cheap prices period. Unless there's some kind of automated AI-driven factory that manufactures everything to spec. But then automated AI-driven factories that manufacture everything would resolve all problems.

 

Manufacturing:

- I may know little about this (and I have a nagging suspicion so does Marc Andreessen). IMO, automation is one thing that is spreading through manufacturing mostly "just fine". Maybe not at Elon Musk speeds, but this is likely closer to "we are doing it" than other areas.

 

Energy:

- Nuclear reactors. Technical issues, regulatory issues, safety concerns, NIMBY, possibly not economic. It's likely not happening.

- OTOH, solar and wind and possibly energy storage might be happening just fine. So maybe again closer to "we are doing it" than he admits.

 

So skipping the areas where "we are doing it", are there solutions for areas where "we are not doing it"?

 

Affordable housing: I don't have solutions

 

Superfast transportation:

- Supersonic jets. Elon Musk is a possible solution.

- High speed trains. Government driven solutions perhaps.

 

Education:

- I don't have solutions.

 

Healthcare:

- I don't have solutions.

 

I'm sure that various people will keep trying all these areas and more. It's not gonna magically resolve anytime soon. But there might be progress. And probably that's the best we can expect.

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New essay by Marc Andreessen, "It's Time to Build":

 

https://a16z.com/2020/04/18/its-time-to-build/

 

So is he willing to pay more taxes or is it just wanting us to create more of a deficit? Sounds like the latter.

 

If the "building" will lead to a net increase in productivity and growth there will not be an increase in the deficit.  Considering how bad various sectors are, it's really a no brainer.

 

 

 

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Just an empty talk.

Did A16Z invest in any of those infrastructure or hard to do things he talks about ?

 

His point is that for these things to even be investable, there has to be a widespread desire to make them happen. Pointless to invest in things that governments (local, state and federal) will block forever and that NIMBYS have control to block. He's trying to help change the conversation and mindset at a time when people may be more receptive to the idea, and that's very powerful. It's not lack of money that keeps all these things from happening -- there's clearly plenty of money when needed -- what's lacking is the actual will to make it happen and a vision of a better future.

 

To say that because this VC firm isn't investing in infrastructure that they don't really want to see it happen doesn't make sense. Everybody has a circle of competence, and they are experts at software and online stuff, and they helped build the internet.

 

That's like saying that I can't be in favor of building more solar farms and nuclear plants because I haven't invested in solar power and nuclear.

 

Ben Thompson wrote this on the essay:

 

I do believe that It’s Time to Build stands alone: the point is not the details, or the author, but the sentiment. The changes that are necessary in America must go beyond one venture capitalist, or even the entire tech industry. The idea that too much regulation has made tech the only place where innovation is possible is one that must be grappled with, and fixed.
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Ben Thompson wrote this on the essay:

 

I do believe that It’s Time to Build stands alone: the point is not the details, or the author, but the sentiment. The changes that are necessary in America must go beyond one venture capitalist, or even the entire tech industry. The idea that too much regulation has made tech the only place where innovation is possible is one that must be grappled with, and fixed.

 

It is really sad that the conclusion drawn from "It’s Time to Build" essay is "too much regulation".  ::)

 

 

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